Professional Sound - August 2017 | Page 34

ALL UNDER ONE ROOF A NEW LOCATION & NEW OUTLOOK FOR MONTREAL’S STUDIO BASE BIN 34 PROFESSIONAL SOUND fans in the Montreal area have a lot to be excited about come the city’s bustling summer festival season. From the French-language fun of Les FrancoFolies to the stylistic mosaic of the Montreal International Jazz Festival to the hipster magnet that is the Osheaga Music and Arts festival, to name only a few, there’s plenty on offer for festivalgoers as the city transforms into a music Mecca in the sunnier months. Albert Chambers is, first and foremost, a music fan, though he’s got some extra reasons to be excited for this year’s festival season in particular. A longtime fixture of the Montreal music scene, Chambers has been serving the city’s creative community since 1995 with Studio Base Bin, a multi-purpose music facility that offers fully outfitted rehearsal studios as well as recording and production services under the same roof. As such, his business got a significant boost each year as local and international touring artists converged on the city with many seeking a pro-level rehearsal space. However, after nearly two decades of operation in the arts district of the Plateau-Mont-Royal area, Chambers was growing disconcerted. Everything within Studio Base Bin was fine as far as he was concerned; the area surrounding it, though, was not. Rent and parking rates in the neighbourhood were rising fast while buildings were being renovated and condos developed. As Chambers puts it, “Everything was kind of going against the grain of what had attracted us to the space years earlier.” On the back of those changes, he made a deal and moved out. At that point, his next step wasn’t totally clear. There was talk of selling the business, though that never materialized. Instead, he got a call about a new space – a large, open 10,000-sq. ft. ware- house with 20-ft. ceilings that once housed a vertical blind manu- facturing facility, of all things – and decided to investigate. “It was nothing to write home to mom about, to say the least,” Chambers says with a chuckle, “but I saw the potential, and kept visualizing in my mind what it could become. It was beyond any- thing I could have dreamed of.” Music BACK TO BASE-ICS To understand the history of Studio Base Bin is to under- stand Chambers’ career trajec- tory to date, as music has been central to everything. A native of Montreal and longtime guitarist, Chambers went straight into music retail after high school, selling re- cords or musical instruments or a combination of the two with various shops. He studied mu- sic at the city’s Vanier College and, following his stint there, set off for Long Island where he continued his playing career while also working retail once again. Eventually, he ended up back in Montreal and took a job at the city’s iconic Steve’s Music store on Saint Antoine Street. Chambers spent years at Steve’s, working his way up to management for his final two years there. “It’s a great place to work and they treated me great, but I started feeling like I just had to do something on my own,” Chambers recalls. During his time in New York, he had the opportuni- ty to rehearse in some fully outfitted, acoustically treated rehearsal rooms and the ex- perience stayed firmly affixed in the back of his mind. “I just loved walking into a space that was totally equipped, where I could just bring my guitar and have everything we’d need to make music. And I couldn’t be- lieve how cheap it was for such a cool space. I’d never experi- enced anything like that.” That’s the experience he wanted to bring to his peers in the Montreal music communi- ty, and that’s what he set out to do. Chambers built a business plan and sought a startup loan from the government, which he did receive – largely, he believes, because of some of the name-dropping in his ap- plication. “I think a lot of it was based on the service I used to give A-list bands, who would often give me credits on their records, so everyone from Ce- line Dion to Beau Dommage,” he recalls. “I think when I went to the bank with photocopies of my name on all of these big records, it gave me a lot of credibility from the beginning, and led to that first loan.” He found a suitable space in the artistic district of the Plateau that could host three rehearsal rooms and signed his lease. At the outset, he bene- fitted from the support of his